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Court Case

Rucho v. Common Cause

Common Cause, the North Carolina Democratic Party, and a group of North Carolina voters filed a lawsuit, Common Cause v. Rucho, raising partisan gerrymandering allegations over the state’s 2016 remedial congressional map.

Published: August 1, 2019

Case Background

The plaintiffs claim that North Carolina’s remedial 2016 congressional map – adopted by the North Carolina legislature after an earlier map was struck down – is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander in violation of the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause, and Article I sections 2 and 4 of the U.S. Constitution.  The plaintiffs argue that the remedial map favored some voters and penalized others for their political party memberships and affiliations, thereby affecting the state government’s ability to maintain political neutrality when distributing political representation and power.  

The three-judge panel hearing the case denied the state's motion to dismiss on March 3, 2017 and consolidated the case with League of Women Voters v. Rucho.

On June 26, 2017 the legislative defendants filed a motion to stay the case pending the Supreme Court's final decision in Gill v. Whitford, which the plaintiffs opposed. The court denied the state’s motion to stay and the trial took place from October 16-19, 2017. 

On January 9, 2018, the court struck down the map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and blocked the state from using the plan for future elections. The court directed that the North Carolina legislature be given until January 24 to adopt a remedial plan and directed that any such plan be filed with the court by January 29. Because of upcoming election deadlines, the court also ordered that the parties propose special masters to redraw the map in the event the court rejects any legislatively enacted remedial map.  

On January 11, the legislative defendants filed an emergency motion to stay the remedial map drawing process pending the Supreme Court’s decisions in Gill v. Whitford and Benisek v. Lamone. On January 16, the court denied the defendants’ emergency motion to stay. 

On January 12, the legislative defendants filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court asking the court to stay proceedings at the district court pending appeal. On January 18, the Court issued an order staying the district court’s decision, including the remedial map process, pending appeal. 

On June 25, the Court vacated and remanded the case for further consideration in light of Gill v. Whitford.

On August 27, the three-judge panel issued a new opinion, ruling for the plaintiffs on all of their claims: the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause, the First Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution. 

On August 31, the legislative defendants filed a motion to stay the opinion pending Supreme Court review. On September 12, the panel granted that motion.

On January 4, 2019, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the legislative defendants' appeal. The Court heard oral argument on March 26.

On June 27, 2019, the Court vacated the decision below and remanded the case for dismissal, holding that partisan gerrymandering claims are nonjusticiable. On September 5, 2019, the court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.

Documents

District Court (Initial Proceedings, 2016-2018)

U.S. Supreme Court (First Appeal)

Emergency Application for Stay

Jurisdictional Stage

District Court (on remand)

U.S. Supreme Court (Second Appeal)

Jurisdictional Stage

Merits Stage

Amicus Briefs in Support of the Appellants

Amicus Briefs in Support of Neither Party

Amicus Briefs in Support of the Appellees